Patti Dahlstrom

Emotion: The Music of Patti Dahlstrom

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Despite releasing four albums on fairly sizable labels between 1972 and 1976, singer/songwriter Patti Dahlstrom never made much of a commercial or critical impression. This 20-song CD draws from each of those records, serving as a best-of for Dahlstrom's limited output. Her companies must have had a lot of faith in her to give her repeated chances, but the evidence suggests that Dahlstrom fell into that uncomfortable category of having too much talent to dismiss as inconsequential, yet not enough to make her mark as either a commercial success or an original voice. Her material and production were in the mainstream of the singer/songwriter records being made in California at the time, though perhaps a little more toward the MOR side than the most successful artists in the style. Her voice had a low, pleasing husky timbre without approaching any of the power or distinctive stamp of the best singer/songwriters. More than voice and production, however, a singer/songwriter has to rely on his or her material to make or break with listeners, and Dahlstrom's songs just weren't special enough to mark her as a stand-out artist. There are mild bouts of unusual lyrical twists, most notably in the backup whispers of "sex" on "Without Love" (meaning you can't have sex without love), and in the very title of "This Isn't an Ordinary Love Song." "Rider," from her self-titled 1972 debut, is easily the best and bluesiest song, buttressed by a shimmering reverberant guitar line, and had she produced more tunes along these lines, she might be more well-known today. As it is, her appeal is limited to '70s singer/songwriter cultists with certain tastes. As other points of interest, "Emotion" was written with French singer/songwriter Veronique Sanson, and several other songs were written with Severin Browne, brother of Jackson Browne.

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